Canada blanks Czechs to reach world hockey final

Prague, Czech Republic ( - Canada will play for gold at the 2015 World Hockey Championship after disappointing the host nation crowd on Saturday with a 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in the first semifinal.

Mike Smith stopped all 23 shots he faced, including a barrage early in the contest, and the Canadians received goals from Taylor Hall and Jason Spezza in their lowest scoring game of the tournament.

Canada had blitzed through the preliminary round with 49 goals in seven games, then rolled to a 9-0 victory over Belarus in the quarterfinals before facing a stiffer test on Saturday.

Nonetheless, the Canadians will play in the gold medal game at the worlds for the first time since 2009 when they suffered a second straight title match loss to Russia. Canada last won the championship in 2007.

On Sunday, the Canadians will play either the United States or Russia for the title.

The Czechs, who will play Sunday for the bronze medal, came out firing Saturday in front of their home crowd. However, Smith was up to the early challenge and turned aside five good chances in the first few minutes.

Canada then quieted the frenzied fans at the 8:40 mark.

Jordan Eberle broke into the Czech zone off a nice lead pass from Sidney Crosby and had a defender closing in as he also drew the attention of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. Eberle then neatly dropped a pass back into the slot for an charging Hall, who deposited the puck into a wide-open net for his seventh goal of the tournament.

Spezza gave Canada a 2-0 lead just over nine minutes into the second with a wrister from the right circle that first went through the legs of defenseman Jakub Krejcik and slipped through Pavelec's pads.

The Czechs appeared to score with just over 90 seconds left in the middle stanza on a point shot from Michal Jordan, but Petr Koukal was whistled for a questionable crease violation and the goal was waved off. Koukal appeared to be above the crease as the puck eluded Smith.

Pavelec then kept the Czechs within two in the final minute with a trio of outstanding saves and the Canadians were content to play defense in the third.

The Czechs managed just five shots in the third and the Canadians sent only six toward Pavelec, who finished a sensational effort with 39 saves.